Sunday, May 11, 2008


I've said before that our neighborhood keeps surprising me. Well, it surprised me again this morning with 9 species of shorebirds! At around 11:00 I found 4 species (3 of them new for my neighborhood list) in the drainage pond for the DR Horton construction project near the Parmer Lane bridge. The most striking were 26 Wilson's Phalaropes, some of which are pictured here. One very interesting thing about phalaropes is that they have reversed sex roles. The brighter birds in this picture are the females. And it's the males who exclusively incubate the eggs and raise the young.

But I was actually more excited to find the bird at the bottom right of the first picture -- a White-rumped Sandpiper. This bird has one of the furthest migrations in this hemisphere, wintering in southern South America and breeding in the Canadian Arctic. I've been hoping to find one in the neighborhood for a long time. The picture at the right is a little out of focus, but I couldn't resist posting it because on the right it shows the White-rumped Sandpiper's white rump -- something you usually only see when it's flying away from you. And on the left was another new shorebird for my list, a Stilt Sandpiper. You can see the brown cheek and crown of its breeding plumage.

Earlier I had already found a few shorebirds on Lake Creek just downstream of the playing fields . One was this Semipalmated Sandpiper, a bird I have only seen once before in the neighborhood. And I wasn't really sure I saw one then because this bird is so similar to the Least Sandpiper which is common on our creek most of the year. The Semipalmated is just a little larger than the Least, has dark legs, and has a slightly less-curved bill. I was glad to get good look at this one today and finally get a positive ID.

The other shorebirds I saw today were:
Last night's front might have been the last significant grounding of migrating birds this spring. (Instead of fighting the north wind, the birds usually stay put for awhile, making them easier for birders to find.) And today is probably the last comfortable weather we'll have until fall. So I was glad I could spend the morning outside enjoying spring migration. And I am amazed how many shorebirds are finding and using the small patches of shorebird habitat we have in the neighborhood. Here's one more picture of the White-rumped Sandpiper.

1 comment:

Mikael Behrens said...

Hmm, looks like the 2nd photo link is broken. I'll fix it tonight.